Monday, 23 May 2016

The Importance of Making Bread

We feel it is necessary, in the wake of having opened a little restaurant, to say something about having a bakery too. For many people who have known Adam Robinson of old, his career took a strange and incomprehensible turn when he started baking bread. There are many who could not take ‘this bread baking business’ seriously. Undoubtedly, the analysis of why he did this yielded many extraordinary theories. But what came through in conversation many times, and still does, is that it is a good thing that he is finally cooking food again. That he has a ‘proper’ restaurant. That he is doing what he is meant to do.

The bakery is, of course, not by any means a proper restaurant. It is not a restaurant of any stripe. Bread is not quail on semolina gnocchi, chicken parfait or pappardelle with borlotti beans. But to dismiss what bread is to nearly every traditional cuisine found worldwide, is to not know what food is. To not understand how many Western European cuisines, to mention but a few, has as a staple, bread, is to miss what is fundamental to eating in those parts of the world. It is for this reason that most chefs w
ho love food (and there are many who do not) will take seriously what bread contributes to their menu. And if they take seriously what things taste like, bread, even if only served in small quantities at their restaurant, should be excellent like the rest of what is offered on the menu.

The Glenwood Bakery is a paean to bread. And it signifies Robinson’s interest in eating. It is, consequently, a big mistake to see his interest, and this is interest is ongoing, in bread as an aberration to his career. Learning to make good loaves is a necessary and natural part of learning about food. And, given the rather academic dedication which knowledge of bread demands, this pursuit is very far from an interruption to a career in food. The cognoscenti might even insist that a serious excursion into bread is utterly required for a complete set of culinary skills – a complete set, of course, only being an ideal.
It is from the love for flour, salt and water that also comes the love for pasta. It comes from understanding the technical nature of working successfully with these ingredients, that a cook and restaurateur understands the specific types of menus and kitchens that are a function of these foods. It frequently is to a good sandwich that a chef comes home late at night. Similarly, it seems perfectly normal to get into bed with a plate piled high with butter and Bovril on sourdough toast, with tea, after a day of cooking some quite sophisticated plates of food. And, when doing so, it seems nearly inevitable to find oneself in a state of drowsy ecstasy at what one is putting into one’s mouth, understanding fully, what it takes to make that bread.

These words are an acknowledgement of what The Glenwood Bakery is to The Glenwood Restaurant.     

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